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Button Demolition: from toilet block to office block

IT WAS either 1954 or 1955 - no one is quite sure which - when Howard Button's grandfather set up the business which later became WF Button & Son.

Now Howard Button is managing director. His father, Ron Button, died last year, leaving Mr Button to cope with the business and the presidency of the National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC).

Ron Button was keenly interested in the industry and in the Federation, says his son, and always attended meetings and conferences. He never wanted to be president though; that wasn't his style.

The firm is now known as Button Demolition and along with its member companies in the NFDC, it is keeping busy. 'Business is very good at the moment,' says Mr Button who tackles jobs in a 70 mile radius around his Hemel Hempstead base. 'It went through the doldrums prior to, and just after the election. Nobody knew what they were doing.'

Button Demolition employs 28 people, a number which fluctuates with the work load. Labour comes from sub-contract gangs:

'We have four gangs which we use all the time,' explains Mr Button. 'They are very experienced but the nucleus of trained guys is declining.'

The firm carries out a wide range of jobs, although it would never tackle the monster jobs such as power stations. ''From a toilet block to an office block' is our motto,' says Mr Button in summary.

And bigger does not always mean better. 'This week we have demolished a groundsman's shed and profit-wise we will make more percentage profit than on the high-rise office in Harlow, which we burned our fingers on,' he says.

A healthy order book has got to be good news, but it does mean hard work for Mr Button: 'There are a few times when you miss being out on site. Back here it's all aggro and paperwork.'